California public defenders get DNA training


While DNA evidence is only a factor in 5-10% of all criminal cases, it is vital that both defense attorneys and prosecutors understand the science in order to help juries find the truth. Post-conviction DNA testing has shown, in dozens of cases involving

unreliable or limited forensics

, that juries can sometimes misunderstand scientific evidence.

A one-of-a-kind program in Sacramento, California, was created to educate public defenders on DNA evidence and the science of testing. On Friday, the program graduated its second class. Only if both attorneys in a trial are prepared to question an expert witness can the jury fully understand the implications of forensic evidence.

Speaking at Friday's graduation ceremony, county Supervisor Roger Dickinson said that anyone who has watched "CSI" or read the newspapers knows that DNA is authoritative and decisive in criminal cases. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be challenged "so justice will be the outcome," he said.

"It's very important to question what everyone else seems to accept," he said. "We have to make sure people receive the benefit of the doubt."

Read the full article here

. (Sacramento Bee, 07/28/2007)

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